Aquatics Club Moves to Lake in Absence of Pool Space

Andy Berg Headshot

An aquatics team in Wisconsin has moved practices out of the pool and into the lakes as the current pandemic has shut down most local aquatics facilities.

The Badger Aquatics Club’s main practice spots have all been closed for the summer over safety concerns. The team tried to find practice space at other area venues but scheduling practice time at the already crowded facilities has proved a challenge.

“Whereas at Shorewood, we might have had 100 kids swimming, we are now limited to 10 in the water at a time at Edgewood,” Scheer told the Wisconsin State Journal. “To keep the kids socially distanced, we are only doing one family per lane, or in some instances, dividing the pool to make sure all kids are at least 6 feet from each other. This means we can’t get as many in the water at a time.”

Given the constraints of such accommodations, Scheer started thinking outside the box — Madison has ample open water, as the city is built on an isthmus between two large lakes that are part of a chain of lakes in the area.

Last week, the club started practicing on a makeshift course about 100 meters from shore on Lake Wingra. The team expects to use the lake into September, and maybe even next summer.

While Scheer said his swimmers have had a variety of reactions to lake weeds and fish, he said overall the kids like it.

“It is a very different challenge opposed to a pool,” said Andrew Martin who has been swimming with Badger Aquatics for about 10 years. “We don’t have the walls or anything to do turns on, and it just feels a lot different swimming in a lake where you can’t really see anything. You don’t really know exactly where you’re going. You don’t have the lane lines or anything, but it’s definitely helping me get more yardage in."

Scheer said Badger Aquatics has seen great popularity this year due to the current pandemic. 

“Right now, there’s interest in any social thing, especially with athletics,” he said. “In many cases, we’ve had to turn people away. With the way that we’ve done it, I think people feel comfortable that safety is being taken into consideration.”

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